Would Princess Leia’s “Real Mother” Please Stand Up… (Part I)

Princess Leia: Luke, what’s wrong?

Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?

Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young. 

Luke: What do you remember?

Princess Leia: Just… images really. Feelings.

Luke: Tell me.

Princess Leia: She was… very beautiful. Kind, but sad. Why are you asking me this?

Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.[1]


For the inaugural post on The Imperial Talker, I thought I would dive right in and wrestle with a continuity issue that has bugged me since I first saw Revenge of the Sith – and it relates directly to the exchange between Luke and Leia in Return of the Jedi which I provided above. In fact, as a good Star Wars fan, you probably already know where I am going with this, but for those who are unsure, I will clue you in:

Leia’s (and Luke’s) “real mother,” Padme Amidala, dies at the end of Revenge of the Sith immediately after giving birth to the twins.

Whoops! That is a bit awkward.

Padme dying...how sad :-( Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Padmé dying…how sad 😦
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Things get even more awkward when one remembers that Revenge of the Sith was made 20 years after Return of the Jedi. One would have thought that to make this exchange work, George Lucas would have kept Leia and Padme together long enough for a young Leia to remember her “beautiful,” “kind,” and “sad” mother before she died. But he didn’t, and we are subsequently stuck with a pretty glaring continuity error, one that to my knowledge has yet to be fixed, let alone adequately addressed.

Now, at this point, one might argue that this error doesn’t matter, that the exchange about Leia’s mother is only one detail in the larger exchange between the siblings. On the surface, you wouldn’t be wrong.

As a whole, the entire dialogue between Luke and Leia works very well to establish the two as siblings and is rather moving, particularly when considered in conjunction with a number of other scenes.[2] Yet, the exchange about Leia’s mother begins this exchange and, as such, sets the tone for it. By asking about Leia’s mother, Luke does something that at no other point has he done before: he actually wants to discover something about his mom.

Think about it, when has Luke ever cared to find something out about the woman who gave birth to him? He has obsessed about his father, but his mom has been absent from his conversations with his uncle, his aunt, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda. But here, in this intimate moment with the girl he just recently learned is his sister, he asks a question about his mother, gleaning anything he can from Leia about this woman he never knew.

In turn, Leia provides a glimpse of her mother: that she died when Leia was young; that she can only recall images of her mother; and that her mother was “kind” and “beautiful” but “sad.”

Then, Leia asks a question of Luke: “Why are you asking me this?”

As a viewer, we know why Luke is asking, even though Leia does not: because Leia’s mother is Luke’s mother and we get to learn about this mystery woman along with Luke. It is unfortunate, then, that Luke, along with viewer, has been deceived…

When George Lucas made Revenge of the Sith, and showed Padme Amidala’s death immediately after Luke and Leia were born, this intimate exchange in Return of the Jedi was effectively watered down thanks to the creation of unnecessary confusion. Now, Star Wars fans and casual movie goer were left wondering: How does Leia know anything about her mother since her mother died only moments after Leia was born? Given the that the new and improved Star Wars universe is being carefully created, edited, and maintained by the powers at Lucasfilm/Disney, fixing continuity issues should be just as important as ensuring future continuity. As such, two initial solutions, albeit inadequate ones come to mind immediately:

Inadequate Solution # 1 – As a baby, only minutes old, Leia was able to form a complex physical and emotional understanding of her mother. I feel I do not need to explain why this answer is inadequate in relation to basic issues of early childhood cognitive development. Rather, I would argue that this answer falls flat because if Leia could form these thoughts, why couldn’t Luke?

Inadequate Solution # 2 – Leia is actually talking about her stepmother, Breha Organa. Let’s recall for a moment that Luke asks Leia if she remembers her “real mother” and that Leia explains to Luke that her mother “died when I was very young.” The implication here is that Luke and Leia both know Leia was adopted at a very young age by the Organa’s. Given that Leia was a member of the Imperial Senate and a ranking leader within the Rebellion, it would be unlikely that, all of a sudden, she is mistaking her stepmother as her real mother. In turn, if she were describing Breha Organa, then, this creates a weird contradiction in and of itself: that Breha died when Leia was young, something that the new Princess Leia comic series shows did NOT happen.

Inadequate Solution # 3 – Leia is knowingly lying to Luke. Besides the silliness of this possible answer, this solution falls short because the entirety of the exchange between Luke and Leia does not hint at any possibility of false information being presented. On the contrary, their dialogue is intimate, and as they continue talking – about Vader being Luke’s father, about the Force being strong in Luke’s family, and about Leia being Luke’s sister – they are actually drawn closer as siblings. If Leia is lying, then the scene would be watered down in a different way: by undermining the connection Luke and Leia establish as siblings, which is precisely why I call this solution silly.

Again, these are just initial solutions that pop into mind to make sense out of what Leia says to Luke. I am sure that other inadequate solutions could be thought up pretty easily, but I would rather move on to a more positive look at this topic.

Rather than continue to dwell on the confusing nature of this continuity issue, or the inadequate possibilities to solve it, I want to present my own fix for this continuity issue. So, in Part II, I will do just that – make sure to check back in a few days.

In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this issue and if you have any other continuity issues you would like to see me address in the future.

Thanks for reading and May the Fourth be with you!!!


[1] Dialogue taken from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

[2] Two in particular of note: 1) When Luke discovers Leia is his sister when talking with ghost Kenobi and; 2) When Vader taunts Luke about turning his “sista” to the Dark Side.

7 comments

  1. Firstly, I would like to commend you on your very solid analysis. However, I would like to point out that this exchange could be justified in the current canon. It has been established that Leia has some connection to the Force due to her family ties. It can also be assumed that this connection would be rather strong even without training, because a young, untrained Anakin Skywalker in Episode I clearly was strongly connected to the Force. Therefore, it is not a stretch, in my opinion, to say that Leia could have not memories, but rather feelings given to her through her connection to the Force, which she mistakes for memories because she doesn’t know anything different that they could be. It could even be argued that since Luke has such a strong Force-connection to his father, Leia could have the same towards her mother. This could also explain why Luke would ask out of the blue about Leia’s mother. Since he had a strong connection to Leia, her connection to their mother could have influenced Luke’s feelings and caused this seemingly random inquisitiveness. And, finally, May the Fourth be with you!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interesting thoughts! The possibility of Leia having a connection with her mother through the Force is certainly plausible, as you are right to point out that an untrained Anakin, as a boy, clearly could use the Force even if he could not fully understand it. In turn, what you say at the end about the “random inquisitiveness” of Luke is also plausible given that Leia admits, later in the conversation that she somehow “always knew” Luke was her brother. There was, in other words, some sort of glimmer of knowing in the back of her mind (though one would surely wonder WHEN that glimmer appeared because she does kiss Luke…twice…). Further, and to ADD to your analysis, one could also argue that the Skywalker family is special in and of itself, particularly since Anakin’s mother had a “virgin” birth and Anakin is the “Chosen One” (I do not want to argue, though, that she was actually a virgin. Rather, the implication is that the Force conceived the boy, nothing more, nothing less.).

      But, this is also where a potential drawback exists because IF the Skywalker family is unique, why does that unique nature exist differently for the twins and their relationship to their parents? As Luke discovers more about his father through the three original films, there is a sense that he is attempting to form an understanding of the man he has been told about, but knows very little about. If, as you point out, Leia has memories/feelings of her real mother, then why does Luke not have those same memories/feelings of his father without training? If Leia, untrained as she is, can recall her mother through the Force, then certainly an untrained (and being trained Luke) should be able to recall his father in some greater fashion as well. Plus, remember that Luke was led to believe by Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru that his father was a navigator on a spice freighter (time out: spice is the primary drug of the entire galaxy, and they told Luke that his father helped ship the stuff!?!?! WOW!!!!). Clearly, Luke was led to believe certain things, primarily falsehoods or half-truths, about his father from his Uncle and Aunt, and in turn Kenobi and Yoda. What Lucas brilliantly does, then, is allows Luke’s journey towards becoming a Jedi slowly unravel the true mystery of his father. Luke was told one thing, but LATER learned something entirely different that WAS true. Personally, I think a similar, albeit altered approach to the true mystery of their mother should also play out (which I will be toying with in my next piece). This does not take away from the possibility of Force connections between the twins and their parents, though, but rather implies that the way those connections work have to be delicately maintained and can raise other, deeper issues related to the Force and the Skywalkers if treated haphazardly. In fact, if I had one suggestion for the people at Lucasfilm who maintain the canon and continuity, it would be this: Lock yourselves in a room and very VERY carefully figure out every little detail about the Force. Then again, since they haven’t done that, I will give it a go down the line in future posts.

      Lastly, let me just say thanks for being the first commenter on The Talker! What you presented is PRECISELY the kind of conversation I want to spark. Keep up the great thoughts!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. This conversation begs another exciting question! It speaks to the nature of the Force itself. Are we to assume that Luke and Leia, although siblings, would have to have the same connection to the Force? Don’t siblings often have different talents, interests, and abilities? Must Luke be able to feel his mother (or his father) in the same way Leia can because they are both Force-sensitive siblings? For example, my brother can play the guitar quiet well…something that is far beyond my own ability, despite having tried. So it isn’t entirely impossible that Leia can have a connection through the Force that her brother doesn’t. As Force-sensitive siblings, Leia could have an ability to connect to Padmé that Luke lacks. And she could have the ability to feel Padmé in a way that Luke can’t feel Anakin. It could be a result of biology. They both have the ability to use the Force but, just because they are siblings, it doesn’t mean their ability to use the Force is identical nor that it would manifest itself in the same way. How do those who can use the Force manifest their ability? Is it all the same – in scope, ability, and experience – or does it manifest itself differently among Force users, even in the same family?

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Certainly not, the twins could very well have different connections to the Force. I would suggest they absolutely do have distinct and unique connections to the Force that results in them having unique connections with, well, life in general (and their parents in particular). In fact, I would go as far as to say that every living thing in the Star Wars universe is connected to the Force in some way, shape, or form, and that, in turn, this means all life (which Yoda tells us creates the Living Force) has distinct signatures/relationships to the Force/universe. This is seen in the very first episode of The Clone Wars when Yoda asks the clones to remove their helmets to look upon their faces. The clones remark that they all look the same, but Yoda notes that each of them is unique in the Force. The implication, then, is that if all life is unique in the Force, and part of the Force, then all living things will have distinct and unique connections to life.

        That all said, I would still suggest that one should be cautious in assuming that Leia is able to have a connection with her mom through the Force that Luke is unable to have. A reading of the scene that assumes this connection is, as I said, plausible, but even there I feel that a certain intimacy is lost if this is the case. When Luke asks Leia about her mother, I do not get the impression that he wants to learn something beyond the scope of empirical reality. In short, he is asking her to describe who this woman, in flesh and blood, actually was. Leia does say she only recalls images, feelings, which again, are plausible for a Force-sensitive to have. However, it is also just as plausible, and I would argue more likely, that she is describing the faded memories or her past…those things she can remember about the mother she knew as a very young girl. That is why I would err on the side of what she is describing as an actual woman she knew in person, not glimpses of her mother than were placed there through the Force. The scene from Jedi is powerful because she is discussing a flesh and blood person and, in turn, Revenge undermines this when Padme dies, leaving us to say “wait, what the heck George!?!?!”

        Either way, it is a matter of how one wishes to read the scenes and interpret them and, since as of right now the Story Group has no provided a definitive fix (which I would argue needs to be internal to the canon, not some Press Release fixing the error), one can believe what they wish: whether Leia is describing a flesh/blood woman OR someone she feels connected to through the Force. In Part II, I will argue the former, but I also have no problem with people accepting the latter because, well, Star Wars is modern-day mythology and as any good student of myth knows, it can be interpreted in different ways.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It is also possible that Luke was unable to sense his father since Darth Vadar is shrouded in the Dark Side which has been shown to cloud the senses of many well trained Jedi.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I greatly enjoyed reading this article and will definitely continue reading your following articles. The point that I want to make is that, although it could be Leia’s connection to the Force, it is also possible that this could just be human error. There are multiple times that humans make mistakes because we are faltered. She could have been told about her mom so many times as a kid, shown pictures and created an image in her head of her mother. Through time she could have believed that this image was a memory of her past. So in telling Luke that she remembered her mother wasn’t a lie but just a forged memory.

    To try and explain my point better let me use an example. I have some teachers at school that tell a lot of stories from their lives (yes I’m talking about you Miller). Some of their stories are so detailed and told so many times that I can basically see myself watching this happen or being in place of the storyteller. When I recite these stories to my friends I can watch myself participating in the story. I know that I wasn’t actually there but I have forged a memory of myself in that story. There have been a few times that, after many years, I remember one of those stories but tell it as if I was the one it happened to because I remember my forged memory and not the memory of someone telling me that story. Leia may not have been doing any lying or using any Force images but she may have just remembered what people told her about Padme as her own memory of Padme. This theory may seem like a stretch but it is the only one that I have thought of that can solve this Lucas mistake without spoiling the moment and that keeps Leia speaking sincerely from her heart.

    I’d love to hear your comments on this and would like to thank Miller for showing this to me. I’ve loved Star Wars since I first saw Episode II as a kid(I liked it because of the big fights as a kid but I came around to my senses). I really like debating about issues like this, mainly with Star Wars and Marvel, and trying to understand the true meaning, if there is one, behind conflicting issues. As I said I will love to see what other topics you will talk about in the future.

    Like

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